country that gave us the Day of the Dead, Narcoterrorism, and Lucho Libre
wrestling must have some pretty strange stuff rattling around in its national subconscious.
However, perhaps as a sign of violent times, most of the monsters portrayed in
a new Mexican horror movie anthology are of a decidedly human variety. The
muck-raking John Kenneth Turner would probably be horrified by the world
depicted in the omnibus film bearing the name of his 1908 pre-revolutionary
expose, but horror fans will be more troubled by the inconsistency of Mexico Barbaro (trailer here), which releases
today on DVD and VOD.
is no effort to link the eight stories, beyond their south of the border
setting, so each can easily be considered discretely. In a way, Laurette Flores
Bornn’s Tzompantli is the most
frustrating, because it starts with enormous promise. Speaking from the vantage
point of decades gone by, a crusty old journalist remembers the story that
scarred him for life. Through an informant, he uncovered information linking a
drug cartel to a series of ritual murders intended to be sacrifices to the
ancient Aztec gods. It is especially unnerving, because it probably more or
less true to life. Unfortunately, Bornn ends it prematurely, cutting down what
could easily sustain feature-length treatment into a mere sketch.
Nito’s Jaral de Berrios might be the
strongest installment and also the most distinctly Mexican in flavor. A bandit
and his wounded partner take refuge in a notoriously haunted villa, with
predictably macabre results. It is a wildly cinematic location, beautifully
shot by cinematographer Juan Pablo Ramírez.
Soto’s Drain is possibly the most
defiantly insane installment. Whether it is a story of supernatural terror or
psychotic madness is anyone’s guess, but the takeaway is clear: if you find a
suspicious looking joint near a dead body, don’t smoke it.
Ezban is one of the two marquee names attached to Barbaro, but his That
Precious Thing is likely to be the most divisive constituent film. Frankly,
the things that befall the young woman and her older, morally suspect lover are
absolutely appalling, but the wildly grotesque creature effects almost turn it
into a gross-out cartoon. This one is not for the faint of heart or easily
Ortega’s It’s What’s Inside That Matters
is probably even more disturbing, but it offers no black humor the soften the
blow. Frankly, it is way, way too gory, considering the victim in question is a
Michel Grau’s Dolls is also rather
tough stuff, but at least the We Are What We Are helmer executes it with some style. Still, it is not exactly what
you would call a fun film. Next, Ulises Guzman reconnects with folkloric
subject matter in Seven Times Seven,
but despite the short format, his narrative still manages to get confused and
least Barbaro ends on a high note
with Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Day of the Dead.
In strip club that will remind some viewers of the establishment in From Dusk Till Dawn, Guerrero manages to
pull off a nifty spot of misdirection. In this case, the resulting carnage is rather
There are some good segments in Barbaro, but also some real ugliness. It
is the kind of film that the fast-forward button can help make more palatable. The
contributions of Nito and Guerrero are definitely worth seeing separately if
the opportunity arises, but the whole ball of wax is only recommended for
hardcore horror fans when Mexico Barbaro releases
today on DVD, from Dark Sky Films.
Labels: Anthology Films, DVD, Horror Movies, Mexican Cinema